Ditton Park, Ditton Manor House or Ditton Park House was the manor house and private feudal demesne of the lord of the Manor of Ditton, and refers today to the rebuilt building and smaller grounds towards the edge of the town of Slough in England. A key feature is its centuries-old moat which extends to most of the adjoining lawns and garden. Park areas extend to the north and west of the moat.
History and architecture
Ditton Park belonged to the crown in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and is in the ancient parish of Stoke Poges. It then belonged to Sir Ralph Winwood and passed to Ralph Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu, through marriage. The direct precursor to the present house was probably built around the early 1600s and was taken down as damaged by fire in 1812. The earlier house here was crenellated or fortified by John de Moleyns in 1331. In it or a later house, then a royal residence, the infant Princess Mary passed the autumn of 1517. It was enlarged at various times and is said to have been rebuilt by Sir Ralph Winwood in the early 17th century. The small building near the south-east corner of the park, formerly a chantry, became a chapel by 1925 served by the vicar of Datchet, since a few years later disused.
Its turrets and pale stucco crenelations bear a resemblance to earlier Strawberry Hill House, a prototype of the Gothic Revival architecture. Its warm, peach colour and tall symmetry reflects a movement towards Romantic architecture common in many of the high aristocracy's folly castles erected in the early 19th century. The house for much of the rest of the century when it was erected was the English home of Charlotte Anne, the Duchess then Dowager Duchess of Duke of Buccleugh // (d.1895). This supplemented homes including the Scottish castles occupied frequently by her and by her son. Ditton Park House was by 1925 occupied by Lord Wolverton. The present square mansion, to which access is obtained by a drawbridge over the moat, stood in 1925 in a wider well-wooded park of 260 acres (1.1 km2). The house and chapel were entirely rebuilt by Elizabeth, Duchess of Buccleugh (born Elizabeth Montague also then spelt Montague) in 1812 and contains (or contained in 1925) many fittings from the former house, including the late 15th-century font, much 16th and 17th-century stained glass, and a glazed tile with a shield of arms, a fesse between six crosslets. In 1925 some 17th-century outbuildings stood.
In 1917 the remainder of the property, its farming tenants having long taken control through copyhold of their own lands, was taken over for the Admiralty Compass Observatory, which used the house and its immediate grounds. In 1920 an area, West Park, began to be used for radio research, which extended into North Park in 1924, and these activities eventually led to the formation of the Radio Research Station. It was here in 1935 that the idea for the development of the British radar defence system was conceived, code-named Chain Home. In the late 1990s, concern was raised regarding disturbing radioactive buried material from the World War II burial of radium-based, luminous paints.
The house and whole manor was in part of the long north-south ancient parish of Stoke Poges which was in the southern extreme of the English county of Buckinghamshire, before boundary reorganisations: in 1974 it was moved to Berkshire; and in 1998 full local government administrative powers were granted to Slough Unitary Authority in that ceremonial county.
- Historic England. "Main building, courtyard walls, stable and gatehouse blocks, admiralty compass observatory at Ditton Park (1319354)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
- 'Parishes: Stoke Poges', in A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1925), pp. 302-313. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/bucks/vol3/pp302-313
- "A Brief History of Ditton Manor" (PDF). Retrieved 4 Jul 2015.
- "Robson's 1839 Directory of Buckinghamshire". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 4 Jul 2015.
- "History of Radio Research at Ditton Park". Retrieved 4 Jul 2015.
- "Inglis Barracks, Mill Hill". Hansard. Retrieved 4 Jul 2015.
Media related to Ditton Park at Wikimedia Commons